Home Elections With high turnouts, polls close in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

With high turnouts, polls close in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

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CRPF personnel stand guard as voter stand in a queue to cast their vote during third phase of West Bengal assembly elections, in Hooghly on April 6, 2021.
Hindustan Times

The highest provisional turnout was reported from Assam, where 82.28% voters exercised their franchise across 40 seats for its third phase. In WB, where 31 seats went to polls in the third phase, provisional turnout stood at 77.68% and in Puducherry, where all 30 seats voted in a single phase, it was 81.64%

The curtain came down on elections in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Tuesday as high turnout was recorded across 475 seats in the southern and eastern regions of India and voting was largely peaceful, barring sporadic clashes in West Bengal and Kerala.

The highest provisional turnout was reported from Assam, where 82.28% voters exercised their franchise across 40 seats for its third and last phase. In West Bengal, where 31 seats went to polls in the third of eight phases, the provisional turnout stood at 77.68% and in Puducherry, where all 30 seats voted in a single phase, it was 81.64%.

The election commission (EC) said 73.58% voting was reported for 140 assembly seats in Kerala and 71.79% for the 234 seats in Tamil Nadu. Both states voted in a single phase on Tuesday. The results of all five regions will be announced on May 2.

In Tamil Nadu, Dravidian rivals Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) traded charges of irregularities in Coimbatore district. Unidentified people hurled stones at the car of Lok Sabha MP OP Ravindranath in Theni, from where his father and deputy chief minister O Pannerselvam is contesting. Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief Kamal Haasan alleged financial inducements were being given to voters in Coimbatore.

“EVM [electronic voting machine] glitches were attended to immediately and polling went on smoothly,” said chief electoral officer Satyabrata Sahoo.

Chief minister E Palaniswami came into the polling booth carrying his toddler grandson, while DMK chief MK Stalin came with his wife and son Udaynidhi to cast his vote in Chennai. DMK MP K Kanimozhi, who is suffering from Covid-19, cast her vote in a personal protective equipment (PPE) kit. The DMK-led alliance is hoping to dislodge the AIADMK after 10 years of being out of power.

In neighbouring Kerala, where the Left Democratic Front (LDF) is attempting to secure a historic second straight term, stray incidents of violence and voting irregularities were reported.

In Taliparambha in north Kerala, the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) sought re-polling, alleging booth capturing. In Kazhakootam (Thiruvananthapuram), a violent clash between Left and BJP workers left five people injured. A presiding officer in Payyanur constituency was hospitalised after political workers allegedly attacked him. Left workers also allegedly roughed up a Congress candidate in Adoor.

Both the LDF and UDF expressed confidence after a month-long campaign, where allegations of gold smuggling against some officials in the chief minister’s office and the controversy around the entry of all women into the Sabarimala Temple were main issues.

In West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleged “blatant misuse” of central forces as the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and BJP accused each other of malpractices. Violence was reported from various parts of Hooghly, South 24 Parganas and Howrah districts where, out of the 205 candidates in the race, only 13 are women. The TMC also filed a complaint with EC, accusing a paramilitary personnel of sexually assaulting a minor girl in Tarakeshwar.

The BJP candidate from Diamond Harbour, Dipak Haldar, accused TMC workers of stopping people from casting votes during polling. TMC candidate from Arambagh, Sujata Mondal Khan, said she was allegedly attacked by BJP workers and her vehicle was vandalised. After this, a brawl erupted in the constituency.Papiya Adhikari, a former actress and BJP candidate from Howrah’s Uluberia South, was thrashed in front of the media.

Voting was peaceful in Puducherry, which slipped into a political crisis shortly before the elections were announced after the Congress-led government fell due to defections. The Congress-led alliance and All India NR Congress-BJP coalition are facing off in the UT.

Apart from few incidents of EVM malfunctioning (they were replaced) in Assam, voting was smooth. In Dhubri district, security forces fired in the air to disperse a crowd who beat up two policemen on duty. Voting on 40 seats in lower Assam took place on Tuesday. Both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition and Congress-led alliance claimed victory.

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